- Comfortable and more luxurious interior
- Exterior styling
- Packed with technology
- Ride can feel a bit skittish
- Running costs will be high
SsangYong aren’t really a brand that jumps out at you if you’re looking for a serious off-roader, but things are changing and the Korean manufacturer is making big strides in taking on the big guns.
Recent additions to the line up include the Tivoli and the Korando, and getting an update for 2017 is the large SUV Rexton.
Having been around since 2001 this fourth generation now has even more technology and safety features, so we took it for a drive on the UK launch to see what it’s like.
On The Road
SsangYong have kept it simple and there’s just one engine, a 2.2 litre turbo diesel which produces 181PS with 420Nm of torque available from 1,600rpm. It does suffer from the odd bit of turbo lag but once up to speed it’s a great cruiser and you can sometimes forget you’re driving such a large SUV.
The trim we drove came with a very smooth Mercedes-Benz 7-speed automatic gearbox, which propels it from 0-60mph in 11.9 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph.
It emits 218g/km of CO2 emissions so will cost £1,200 for the first year of road tax, while official figures claim that it should achieve a combined 34mpg, it’s unlikely you’ll get near that figure so don’t expect low running costs.
It has really light steering which at times makes you feel like you’re always having to overcorrect to keep all four wheels pointing the right way, coupled with a ride that can feel quite skittish on just a hint of a rough road and it sadly lacked in offering up a good, solid drive on normal roads - if it was going to be spent doing that, rather than running up hills and across muddy pastures.
We tested it out for its towing capabilities, it can pull up to 3.5 tonnes and with a caravan attached it made light work of taking it on a special course, we could have forgotten a couple of times that there was a caravan attached.
If you are taking it off-roading then it has various ways of setting up the Rexton to tackle any tough road conditions you throw at it, so you have plenty of traction to overcome any challenges.
SsangYong have over 60 years of 4x4 expertise, so it’s no surprise then that the first cars headed to Europe did so after an 8,000 mile drive from South Korea, where they encountered all sorts of extreme conditions across Russia and China, and managed to arrive in time for the Frankfurt motor show in one piece. That’s a great way to show how robust and capable the all-new Rexton is.
The all-new SsangYong Rexton really looks good in the flesh, the previous versions have always seemed to lack any real exterior style, they have been, dare we say it, positively ugly, but the front now takes style cues from the Korando and Tivoli and if this is the way that the brand is heading then it’s a positive thing.
SsangYong have massively improved when it comes to refinement, the previous generation focussed too much on its capabilities as an SUV where comfort seemed a bit neglected and they’ve turned it around with this new version.
The seats are really comfortable, are heated and ventilated (in top level Ultimate trim) and can be adjusted electronically; the driver’s seat is adjustable eight different ways, which also moves position when you open the door.
In The Car
The interior is very welcoming, once you’ve made the step up into it.
A high definition 9.2 inch touchscreen dominates the centre of the car and this features TomTom navigation, media, a rear-view reversing camera and car information.
Connectivity for smartphone devices is provided through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and there are USB points and Aux points in the front and rear so all passengers can keep tecnhology charged.
The driver has a 7 inch LCD information display surrounded by the dials, it’s well laid out and we must admit we did like the noise of the cricket when you flicked on the indicators, it took awhile to work out why we couldn’t hear them...
There are just three trim levels: EX, ELX and Ultimate with a wide range of standard equipment across the range. EX comes with an 8 inch display screen, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and seven seats, while top of the range Ultimate features interior mood lighting, an electronic tailgate, LED fog lights with cornering function and quilted nappa leather.
The SsangYong Rexton has a very large cabin so expect plenty of leg and headroom for all passengers.
The ELX trim has seven seats but we tried out the five seat Ultimate version, the rear seats split 60:40 and can be folded down for even greater space.
The boot space holds 820 litres but with seats down this increases to a huge 1,977 litres which is a big plus point for the Rexton and for extra practicality there is a removable boot floor.
The SsangYong Rexton is priced from £27,500, when you consider that the rival Kia Sorento starts from £32,545 then it offers a lot for the money in this segment. If you fancy a bit more luxury then the Rexton in Ultimate trim is £37,500 and all models come with an attractive five-year limitless mile warranty.
The Rexton is now a really good proposition for those looking for a large SUV, it has excellent off-roading and towing capabilities, is very well-priced and finally has an exterior that looks good.
Quality is an area of improvement for the Rexton over the previous generation, the soft touch leather, the quilted leather on the seats and on the doors makes it quite a plush interior. There are some plastics like the grey memory seat buttons which look a bit cheap, but overall it’s a massive change in the right direction.
There have never been any major reliability issues with the Rexton and owners have been really impressed with its off-roading and towing prowess.
SsangYong claim that the Rexton is now one of the strongest and safest in its class and we can see why, it has up to 9 airbags, Isofix points and a raft of safety features including forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection, autonomous emergency braking and if you’re taking it off-roading it has hill start assist and hill descent control.
We really liked the camera button where we had a 3D ‘Around View’ of the Rexton displayed on the centre screen. It was really helpful when towing a caravan through a narrow gap, we could see either side (always good to see daylight between a caravan and wall...) and also an aerial view of the surrounding area.